By Hannah Bensen, Editor in Chief
One West Bend student is about to experience his very first white Christmas.
Juan Pablo Cofré, a Chilean foreign exchange student who attends East High School, is used to being warm for the holidays.
“I have never had Christmas in the snow. It is always really, really hot for Christmas [in Chile],” Cofré said.
The recent polar vortex has prompted Cofré to run for the comfort of the indoors. He was not prepared for the winter temperatures to fall well below freezing.
“I was expecting cold, but never like this,” Cofré said. “I never thought it was physically possible to get this cold. I thought [these temperatures] only happened in Antarctica. I don’t like that your skin can literally hurt from the cold.”
In recent days the weather has only become even more frigid, with Sunday’s lowest temperature reaching nearly 20 below zero with wind chill. In Chile, the coldest weather that Cofré ever experienced was a mere 32 degrees, which is nearly T-shirt weather by Wisconsin standards. As a result, Cofré has had to borrow a more insulated jacket from his host family because the one that he brought was not warm enough.
“I thought these temperatures only happened in Antarctica.”
– Juan Pablo Cofré
“I like the winter, even though it’s insanely cold. I love the snow, you can see that everything is white,” Cofré said.
In Chile, snow rarely accumulates enough to necessitate a snow plow or even shoveling because half of their winter precipitation comes in the form of rain. Chilean winters are even warm enough for outdoor sports. The seasonal lifestyle change, therefore, is much less drastic, and people are outside much more often.
Although winter in Wisconsin is comparably colder than in Chile, the weather has not held Cofré back very much. He hopes to go skiing or tubing at Sunburst Ski Hill, and has already gone ice-skating indoors.
He also had his first experience with shoveling the heavy snowfall. Because of the lack in snowfall in Chile, Cofré was unsure of how to properly use a shovel. He was also surprised to see that the lakes freeze over in Wisconsin because it is never cold enough in Chile for the water to freeze.
Cofré will face the opposite temperature problem when he returns to Chile Jan. 16. Since it is summer there, the temperatures can soar close to 100 degrees.
“I will go feel the sun and be happy with the sun,” Cofré said. “I will go to the beach right away.”
(Top image: Juan Pablo Cofré in West Bend on Sunday. Photograph by Hannah Bensen, Editor in Chief.)